U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on Friday sent video congratulations to her transgender son, Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, recipient of SAVE’s 2015 Champions of Equality award.
“Rigo, I’m so very proud of you, not just for this wonderful award, but also for living an authentic life that makes you happy,” Ros-Lehtinen said in the video. “With your courage and your advocacy, you continue to build public support and greater understanding about the LGBT community.”
Heng-Lehtinen, who grew up in Miami as Amanda, transitioned more than five years ago. The congresswoman couldn’t attend SAVE’s annual Champions of Equality reception —she’s in Europe on official business. Her husband, former U.S. Attorney Dexter Lehtinen, accompanied Rodrigo to the reception
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Dexter Lehtinen gave a tearful, emotional speech as he presented Rodrigo with the award.
This weekend, Ros-Lehtinen has a message for other parents of LGBT children:
“Mother’s Day may be a difficult holiday for many families who have not been accepting of their children’s gender identity issues,” Ros-Lehtinen told the Miami Herald. “Our kids deserve to be treated as adults who have struggled to find their authentic selves and families should come to terms with that realization. It can be a painful journey of awareness for both the child and the parent but a necessary one. Dexter and I are blessed to have four adult children and we love each one. Why would we not?”
Other 2015 SAVE Champions of Equality: Arianna Lint, Sunserve transgender services director; Mark Rosenberg, president of Florida International University; and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.